Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|April 11, 2022|4 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Editor’s Desk

Zuma must go

I can shut my eyes and see the marching thousands and hear the sound and fury of a hot afternoon in Africa. Most people remember it as a popular uprising against the looting by a corrupt government; I will always remember it as the entrepreneurs protest.

As I write this, it is exactly five years to the day that I ran through the streets of South Africa with more than 25,000 people as they howled to the gates of Parliament in Pretoria. A lot of entrepreneurs ran with me on that day of outrage.

“Zuma must go!” was the chant on that April day, back in 2017, in one of those rare days in Africa when people rise up in peace for a bloodless howl of anger against the people leading them.

The issues for most people on that day, was that their leaders were looting their hard-earned tax money instead of pouring it into where it was desperately needed – into the roads we were walking on, the electricity that had deserted us, and the schools and hospitals our families couldn’t live without. The Zondo Commission on corruption has laid it bare, since then, that unscrupulous looter took billions for things they didn’t need: luxury homes; flash cars, and yachts; at the expense of things that people need: clean water, new homes, and electricity.

I remember entrepreneurs by the score – most of whom were feeling the pinch from this corrupt depletion of public funds and infrastructure-  closing their businesses and going out on the streets to protest. For many it was the first time they had protested in their lives

White and black, young and old, of all religions and political colours; they all stood together with fist clenched. White and black marched holding banners that said: “Zuma must go!”

It was a day of celebration – as much as  protests – reminiscent of the hope of the Mandela years.

It took a while, but Zuma did go the following yearand ushered in a new pragmatic business-friendly administration under President Cyril Ramaphosa – a lawyer and  no stranger to the boardroom, nor the shop floor . He at least, has attempted to clean up.

Yet reforms have been slow and so has the prosecution of the guilty has moved at a snail’s pace. Sure, the Zondo Commission has told us how much money has gone and how it was looted, but when will that money be recovered and the guilty serve time in jail? The sooner the better for the credibility of one of Africa’s most powerful economies.

As for the South African entrepreneurs who stood on the street, with clenched fists on that day in April five years ago; they still want to see a sweeping away of red tape that holds business and investment back. It is as simple as that.